Hello Book Thing friends,

It’s hard to believe it’s summer already! Time feels both sped up and slowed down these days. This time last year, our former executive director was on medical leave, a brave employee was holding down the fort, and we had little concept of the work that lay ahead of us. We didn’t know that the IRS had already revoked our nonprofit status a month and a half prior. We had no idea that The Book Thing would need to go into hibernation to stay alive. Fast forward to the present. Much has been accomplished… and there is still so much to do!

The gradual reopening here in Baltimore City has not yet reached The Book Thing. Only just last week were we finally able to bring our two part-time staff members back onsite on a staggered schedule. They’re our sales team, and their efforts have been keeping us afloat. The next step is to figure out how we can safely allow experienced/trained volunteers back into the building, without putting anyone’s health at risk or increasing stress for our staff. Building a new normal takes time and careful thought.

We’re still thinking about how we can give books away to the public this summer. As we mentioned in our May update, we knew the month of June would be heavily focused on the administrative matters of our reinstatement application. But the goal is in sight, and we expect to have more bandwidth for operational concerns in the near future.  We’ll be sure to get any updates on book giveaways out with plenty of notice. Keeping things safe, simple, and fair is our main concern. Please stay tuned in July.

So what have we been working on?

  • We submitted our 2016-18 nonprofit tax paperwork to the IRS! This was huge!! Sending in these overdue returns as a package was the first and most challenging requirement for getting our nonprofit status reinstated. We’re thrilled to have completed this step after 9 months of forensic accounting research to compile the historical financials, and many reviews! This was a true team effort. We are so grateful to our amazing and generous CPA, whose expertise and support made it possible.
  • We’re on track to submit our 2019 tax paperwork by the (unusual) July 15 deadline, without needing to request an extension.
  • We have reviewed a draft of our reinstatement application and provided feedback to DLA Piper, the law firm that is kindly handling our case on a pro bono basis. We had hoped to submit the reinstatement package — which includes the application and a justification letter — to the IRS by July 1, but there have been some unrelated delays. We’re working closely with DLA Piper to keep things on track.
  • In June, we gave away approximately 3,000 books in response to bulk donation requests from non-profit organizations who are able to continue their operations despite the shutdown.

What’s next?

As mentioned above, we are still working with DLA Piper to complete and submit an application for retroactive reinstatement of our nonprofit status to the IRS. Until that application is finished, it will remain our top priority, along with our 2019 federal and state filings, which are due on July 15. After everything has been submitted, we’ll be waiting for an IRS ruling. That will probably take at least 5 months, although we don’t know for sure. Our CPA informed us last week that the IRS is now averaging about 4.5 months to process an application to form a new nonprofit. Since we are applying to reinstate a revoked nonprofit, our case is more complex and may well be delayed for more careful review.

In July, we will continue to work with partner organizations that can distribute books to communities in need. We will be monitoring the evolving reopening and pandemic situation as we consider how to bring volunteers back on site safely.  We’ll be planning for a public book giveaway this summer, conditions permitting. We will continue to support our small, part-time sales team. And of course, we will keep you updated.

What can you do?

  • Do you have ideas for how we can safely give away books with minimal volunteer support? Do you work with an organization that can accept a generic “bulk” donation of books and distribute them to communities in need? Please contact us!
  • If you can, please donate. Your financial support will help us to survive this challenging time.
  • If you have fundraising or grant writing expertise, we’d still love to hear from you via the Contact form. We want to be ready to seek out appropriate levels of nonprofit sponsorship as soon as we’re eligible to do so. Thank you to those who have contacted us so far.
  • If you have prior Board experience and/or relevant expertise, please reach out. We are still collecting expressions of interest and expect to turn our attention to Board development activities after our reinstatement application has been submitted. Experience with strategy, non-profit management, accounting, fundraising, legal counsel, and the like is particularly valuable.
  • Please stay tuned. We will continue to use our website and social media to keep you informed.

Now that there’s summer weather after months of quarantine, we’re looking forward to a change of pace and scenery as much as everyone else. But the latest coronavirus numbers are a bit scary, with states that reopened earlier seeing a surge in new cases.  Stay safe out there.

Please direct all inquiries to the Board of Directors via the Contact form on our website.

To donate, you can:

Click: bookthing.org/donate

Mail a check to:
The Book Thing
3001 Vineyard Lane
Baltimore, MD 21218

Please Note: Due to the revocation of our nonprofit status, donations made after 5/15/19 are not tax-deductible. We are currently working to get our nonprofit status reinstated, but the process is not yet complete. Please consult a tax professional if you need information about how retroactive reinstatement might affect donations made during the revocation period.